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Delta and American join United Airlines in scrapping change fees on domestic flights

Change fees are being eliminated immediately on tickets that were already bought as well as for new trips purchased.

Delta and American join United Airlines in scrapping change fees on domestic flights
[Photo: Ryan Johns/Unsplash; NeONBRAND/Unsplash]
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Air travel is down in the United States. How far? If you look at TSA data for the month of August, the number of people moving through security is between a quarter and a half of what it was last year at this time on any given day.

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Fears of coronavirus and widespread quarantines on travelers from hot-spot states are surely a factor. This despite recent research revealing that air travel is actually safer than you might think.

With the embattled airline industry hemorrhaging money, the three largest U.S. carriers have all announced that they are making a major bid to entice travelers to book flights with them—by getting rid of change fees on domestic flights for good. You know, those fees that can ding you between $75 and $200 per ticket if something comes up and you can’t travel on the days you originally booked? Gone.

United Airlines announced the move yesterday, and Delta Air Lines and American Airlines followed suit this afternoon.

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Most airlines had waived change fees in the wake of the first wave of the pandemic, as travelers canceled flights and travel companies posted major losses. Delta logged a second-quarter loss of $5.7 billion while United took a $1.6 billion hit.

The gambit comes as airlines scramble to slow their cash burns.

According to Delta, there will be no change fees on tickets already purchased within the domestic U.S., Puerto Rico, and U.S. Virgin Islands for any seat except Basic Economy. American, meanwhile, said it was doing away with “all change fees for First Class, Business Class, Premium Economy and Main Cabin tickets for all domestic and short-haul international flying.”

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Their announcements follow a similar one from United, which said yesterday it was “permanently getting rid of change fees on all standard Economy and Premium cabin tickets for travel within the U.S., effective immediately.”

About the author

Lydia Dishman is a reporter writing about the intersection of tech, leadership, and innovation. She is a regular contributor to Fast Company and has written for CBS Moneywatch, Fortune, The Guardian, Popular Science, and the New York Times, among others.

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